Category: Tips for Sellers
New home or first home – it doesn’t matter. Decorating can be a challenge for us all, even the professionals. One technique I have appropriated in my nearly 20 years in real estate and construction is to find something you love and let it inspire you. I’m not sure if I learned it from a designer, architect, or a combination of perspectives, but it helps me refine my thinking when it comes to every design choice.
Perhaps you have a blouse with colors that speak to you. Maybe it’s a rug you found with a unique design that is the epitome of “your style.” In my current home, I took inspiration from a silk batik banner adorned with comical fish. Years ago, I admired it in a small art gallery on Martha’s Vineyard where I once lived. I have always been drawn to textile art and I loved the colors and the humor. My husband remembered that I liked it and bought it for me for Christmas.
When we moved to Charleston 14 years ago, I decided that banner had the perfect tropical vibe for my new home in the south and that it would be the inspiration for transforming my “stuff” from my New England saltbox to suit my contemporary home on Johns Island.
My new living room was cavernous with 18 foot ceilings and low light. I chose a shade of yellow from the fish body somewhere between Citrine and old gold for the living room, dining room, and hallways. It was warm and bright without adding “heat” as it is at the “cooler” end of the color wheel’s warmest tones.
All the wet areas – kitchen and bathrooms are the same turquoise on the lightest shade of the fish gills. Tropical and fun, the turquoise shade worked well with the cabinets in those rooms because they were all the same wood and they had an orange undertone. Bedrooms and my very bright Four Seasons room are a dark stone grey with a lot of blue from the darkest part of the fish. It’s cool and restful in rooms with lots of light or bright white plantation shutters.
My favorite fish have giant orangey-red kissy lips and I generously sprinkle oranges and reds around the house in accents. I chose wooden fish decorated with red and gold mirror tiles for the mantle in the gold living room and added a turquoise throw on the gold sofa. There’s a small red cabinet for the dog’s leash and toys next to the front door with a turquoise shell plate for keys and such. The area rugs are all in different patterns but in the same family of turquoise, orangey reds, and golds. Because I loved the tropical theme, I have also collected artwork with palm trees and sea life.
I did not go and buy all new things. The “beige-ish” sofa in the sunroom in bad need of recovering after 20 years came from Massachusetts but the beige color is accented with nubs of reds and blues that work fine with the grey walls. The rug that came with it, and would not work anywhere else in this house, remains with the sofa. The print of Vineyard Haven Harbor, classically New England, is not tropical, but I love it and it still feels coastal. I kept the down comforter covered in hydrangeas (I bought it in the 90’s and it was cute then) and have since recovered it with a grey and gold duvet.
When showing homes, clients frequently comment that the decorating is all over the place. Too many different colors and accents in different rooms that are not harmonious can make a house feel disjointed. One purple bedroom, one pink, one green and not in the same hue or intensity can make it hard to envision “your stuff” in the space. Over 11 years some things were retired and replaced, but having a concept helped me wade through the gazillions of choices and gives the house a certain continuity. Having an inspiration helps me focus on the choices, but it never prevents me from finding a treasure that deviates from the palette but gives me joy.
By now, most people know what it means to “buy local.” In Charleston for instance, it’s known that buying local seafood ensures the upmost freshness, and similarly by supporting local book stores, your dollars circulate in the community. But what difference does it make in real estate transactions? In my experience, the local providers make transactions go more smoothly every step along the way.
You might ask “what difference does it make if I use some nationally known lender that I can access online versus a local lender?” The convenience of logging on at 10:00 pm and typing in information might seem like an easier option than meeting face to face, or even scheduling a call with a local lender. In the long run however, the convenience on the front end might turn out to be less convenient once the process begins in earnest. One out of state lender told my client that she did not need a CL-100 (letter indicating no termites or damage) and she nearly cancelled the appointment to inspect. This lack of knowledge about the specifics of SC real estate transactions can create speed bumps when closing a deal, and even the difference in time zones have caused problems with closing on time. Most importantly, I find local lenders also understand the pricing in this market better than national companies and tend to approve loans for higher price point because they know the market will support it.
Living in the Lowcountry means risks and hazards that may be unfamiliar in other areas of the country. An insurance provider based in Kansas may not be aware of our flood insurance risks, wind and hail issues, and even earthquakes here. For example, there was a tremor in Summerville in June, and they happen regularly. Local agents know this, and can advise you accordingly.
Appraising real property is not an exact science. It takes judgement, discernment and experience. The difference between Folly Beach and Johns Island is not just 15 miles of travel. It can be the difference between a quirky beach house and a horse farm – with the same price tag. Appraisers may be well-qualified in Columbia to make a judgement about different kinds of property, but may be geographically incompetent here. Appraising homes in a subdivision in a more homogeneous area is also a different challenge than the many diverse types of homes and lifestyles here in the Charleston market.
So often I work with clients who are getting advice from a family member or friend who is a real estate agent in another part of the country, or even this state. It’s only natural to seek that advice from family members who only have their best interests in mind, to help them make a big decision. More often than not, that advice does not apply in this particular market. The market in New Jersey is very different than Mt. Pleasant. An experienced, local Realtor® knows that a well-priced home in Riverland Terrace is not going to last long, and offering 20% below asking price will not get the job done. I’ve had more than one client lose an opportunity because of advice they received that does not apply to this unique market with its many equally unique sub-markets. Similarly, in North Carolina, it is customary to have the appraisal done before the home inspection, where here it is the opposite. My clients who moved to Iowa, learned that finished space that is heated and cooled but in the basement is not counted in the total square footage. We don’t have basements for the most part, but here all heated and cooled space is counted.
There are so many things that can affect real estate transactions on all fronts, and working with local experts can make all the difference in getting to closing.
Are you thinking of using a discount real estate agent to sell your home? After all, all they do is stick a sign in the ground and put it on MLS – anyone can do that, right? WRONG. There is much more to selling your home for top dollar.
First and Foremost – Marketing
Real Estate in 2019 has one primary driving force and that is “click-bait.” What is click bait? It is the undefinable but compelling reason to click on a photo. Because virtually all real estate searches begin with the internet, in order to be competitive your home must warrant that first click. People do not even take a full second to see a photo before they move on to one that is more attractive. I use a professional, architectural photographer to ensure that my clients get the maximum clicks both with great photos and by selecting the “money” shot for that first image – often not the front of the home.
Another way to ensure clicks, is to stage the home for more compelling photos. Both of these things can be expensive and discount agents can’t afford the time or money to do them. I have proven time and time again it works, and I can actually save you money by focusing your efforts on what will really make a difference.
Once a buyer clicks the next most important thing is the description. Professional writing makes for a description that goes beyond the bedroom and bathroom count but sells the essence of what is great about your home. I bring the entire Dunes marketing team to sell your home. Moreover, I will be present at every showing – after all, who can sell your home better than I can!
Experience – No Substitute
Often discount agents are inexperienced and not confident of their training or self-worth to do the job or they wouldn’t sell themselves short. I know the value I bring to the table.
One particular irritant I experience is other agents doing the minimum work until they are asked for more. I will make certain that all relevant documents are readily available to other agents in advance such as plot plans, insurance declarations, HOA documents, and relevant flood insurance information to prevent delays in communication.
I am so fortunate to have discovered great resources over the years. I found the best home inspector, best architectural photographer, my fantastic stager, and a real estate attorney that has never been less than perfect in addition to countless construction specialists that clients might need along the way. Discount agents typically will not go that extra mile.
In addition, I have a 26-point Service Level Agreement that describes everything I will do to get you top dollar and sell quickly.
As a Certified Negotiation Specialist, I have been trained in the art of negotiation – fewer than 1% of REALTORS® have that designation. If I can’t negotiate for myself to receive what I am worth, how can I be a tough but fair negotiator for my sellers?
It’s Rarely Just a Business Decision
Even the most pragmatic business professionals I encounter find this to be an emotional decision. They swear up and down that it will not be that way and invariably something in the process triggers an emotion he or she was not expecting. This is a life-changing move. I am a trained problem-solver, and I have a sales manager and broker to also help me manage problems as they arise. If I can get you a higher sale price, the commission will pay for itself.
Have you ever bought or purchased a lower priced service and then regretted not stepping up to the better quality in the first place? Are you willing to take that kind of chance with selling your largest asset?
With an interest rate increase still in the cards this year, combined with the American political landscape and global economic events, a cooldown could occur by winter. Presently, however, summery growth prevails as many locales are reaching near-record prices not seen in more than a decade.- According to Charleston Trident Association of Realtors
Market Stats through May 2016
REGIONAL REAL ESTATE SALES
CHARLESTON, SC—(December 10, 2015) 1,029 homes sold in November in the region at a median price of $246,000 according to preliminary data released today by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® (CTAR). In November 2014, 987 homes sold at a median price of $222,067.
Year-to-date data shows that sales volume is 14% ahead of where it was last year, with 14,758 sales through November 2015 and the regional median price has increased by 5.3%, currently $228,000. Through November 2014, 12,933 homes had sold at a median price of $216,352.
- Upper Charleston Peninsula
- Downtown Charleston
- Mount Pleasant (below IOP connector)
- Mount Pleasant (above IOP connector)
- Folly Beach
- Isle of Palms and Wild Dunes
- Sullivans Island
- Kiawah Island
- Seabrook Islands
- Daniel Island
Charleston residential real estate saw a great year in 2014, with a 9% increase in sales volume and a 5% increase in median prices. A total of 14,253 homes sold last year in the Charleston metro area, with the downtown Charleston peninsula and Folly Beach seeing the most median price growth, while Kiawah/Seabrook and James Island were some of the most active subsections of the Lowcountry, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors®. In December 1,270 homes sold at a median price of $202,870. 2015 CTAR President, Matt DeAntonio, gave a great outlook for 2015, stating that “we expect to see sales volume and prices continue to grow.” While inventory remained low, 12% lower than in 2013, some notable changes in the market from 2013 to 2014 included a 17% increase in single-family home sales and that distressed sales continued to decline significantly.
Click on Area for Detailed Analysis
More than 5,000 Homes Sold This Summer in the Charleston Area.
These Charleston area market statistics were recently released by the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®. “The summer months were, as expected, a period of steady, sustainable growth” said 2014 CTAR President, Corwyn Melette. “About 40% of sales for the year close during the summer, and this summer, sales activity and price growth has our market well-positioned for a strong finish to 2014” Melette said. At the end of August, there were 5,961 homes classified as active for sale in the CTMLS. At this time last year, there were 5,702.
Click on Area for Detailed Analysis
These Charleston area market statistics were recently released by the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®. “Our housing market continues to be where the economy experts thought it would be – steady, sustainable growth in both closed transactions and median price,” said 2014 CTAR President, Corwyn Melette. “With five straight months of inventory growth – albeit small, single digit percentage growth – some prospective buyers, who may not have found what they were looking for in the spring, should take another look and see if they find something that fits their needs now,” he added.
Market Stats- Since the opening of The Real Estate Studio in historic Charleston in 2007, dunes properties has had a stronger focus in sales on the peninsula. Our downtown office is comprised of a group of agents that are experts in the downtown market, including the upper and lower peninsula. With this expertise combined with the strength of our other three offices, we have seen significant growth in the downtown market.
In the third quarter of 2014, dunes properties has sold $17,186,650 with over 40 sides. Closing out 2013 with $16,527,350 in sales, which was more than double the previous year, we have already surpassed last year’s total!
Compared to July 2013, the median sales price is up 21% and the number of days on the market has decreased almost 30% in historic Charleston. North of the crosstown, the median sales price is $304,500, which is 6% higher than this time last year.
Along with increased sales on the peninsula with dunes properties, the Lowcountry has continued to see growth in home sales and prices. July was the fifth month in a row that the Charleston area has seen inventory growth, opening up new opportunities for buyers who may not have found what they were looking for last Spring. Compared to July 2013, residential sales have increased from 7,417 homes sold at a median price of $200,834 to 8,016 homes sold at a median price of $216,250.